Maggie Gyllenhaal is the product of a show business family. Her father Stephen is an actor who launched Maggie’s career and her screenwriter mother Naomi Foner won a Golden Globe for Running on Empty. Sister of Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie has established herself as a solid actress capable of creating a myriad of characters, including her latest as Jean in Crazy Heart.
Mirror: How did you as the actress get past Bad Blake’s (Jeff Bridges) dysfunction and have your character fall in love with him?
Maggie: When you have a wonderful script and you’re acting with Jeff, it’s easy.
Mirror: Have you ever been attracted to the wrong person?
Maggie: I’ve been attracted to people who have been terrible for me. Sometimes you work through it and other times you don’t. That’s part of the reason why the movie is so good – because they are unlikely lovers.
Mirror: What made saying goodbye to Bad so difficult?
Maggie: It was hard because she loves him. She could have said, o.k. you’re clean and sober; let’s try. When we shot that scene, Jeff asked ‘Can I touch you?’ I just looked down and didn’t say anything, but I wished that I could say yes.
Mirror: Jean is attracted to him when he’s an unkempt drunk, but when he’s clean and sober and ready to build a new, healthy life with her, she rejects him.
Maggie: He gets out of rehab but how does she know he has his addiction licked. He lost her child (Buddy) and although she loves Bad, she couldn’t take a chance. He could fall off the wagon and lose Buddy again and it would completely be her fault.
Mirror: How do you compare yourself to Jean and how much personal sacrificing have you made?
Maggie: You can’t sacrifice everything for your children or you’ll be an empty shell. I don’t usually like to talk about my family, but my experience with being a mother is tied to this movie. I made the movie when my daughter was almost two. Before that, I had been focusing almost exclusively on being a mother and started to get restless. I’m an actress and had so much to express. It all came out in Crazy Heart and in a way very similar to Jean’s experience because she was trying so hard to balance being a good mom and have a career. At that point, she needed something for her. I had the same feeling. I needed something for me.
Mirror: Your brother Jake and your husband Peter (Sarsgaard) are pretty awesome. Do you talk about your careers at the dinner table?
Maggie: We try not to. My husband has a great way of thinking about awards. There are people who don’t care but most actors like awards, especially me. I know it’s not good for me to think about it because it’ll make me crazy.
Mirror: Lots of luck to you.
Maggie: Thank you.
Contact Beverly Cohn